Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday Sermonette: Wickedness

Perhaps you have heard of Ark Encounter, a tourist attraction in Kentucky featuring what purports to be a life-sized model of Noah's ark. The theme park was built with the help of a subsidy from the taxpayers of Kentucky by Answers in Genesis, an organization led by Australian-American Ken Ham, that insists the Bible is literally true. Funny thing: the ark was constructed by 1,000 Amish craftsmen using more than 3 million board feet of lumber and 95 tons of metal fasteners.

Anyway, here's the story:

This is the account of Noah and his family.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. 16 Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. 17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. 21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”
22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

So, because the earth is filled with violence, God decides to destroy nearly every living creature. That's quite psychopathic if you don't mind my saying so. Anyway, Noah, who lives in a desert and has presumably never seen a ship of any kind, does the work of 1,000 skilled craftsmen and builds a ship about 450 feet long. That's the size of the largest  wooden ships ever built -- which didn't come along until much later -- and they required metal straps to hold them together. This translation implies that there was an opening all around under the roof, but most translations have a single 18 inch window in the middle of the roof. In any case there is no ventilation on the lower or middle decks.

So, in order to get two of every kind of animal onto the ark, how many creatures would Noah need to round up? The answer, as best we can tell, is about 13 million. That is, the latest estimate is that there are about 6.5 million terrestrial metazoans. The vast majority of these live in tropical forests, and on continents far from Noah. Answers in Genesis also maintains that humans coexisted with the non-avian dinosaurs, who must also have been brought onto the ark but for some reason died out later. It would be awfully fun to have a T. Rex and a Brontosaur next to the marmosets!

While this story is obviously very silly, the sad news is that Ken Ham and a lot of Kentucky lawmakers and gullible tourists actually believe it. 

1 comment:

Don Quixote said...

All things considered, I think I'd prefer to visit Mammoth Cave National Park if I visit Kentucky.